Tour 30 Historic Cemeteries in Little Compton
Little Compton: Thirty volunteers are ready to great visitors in historic cemeteries and burying grounds throughout Little Compton this Saturday. The Little Compton Historical Society is hosting the town-wide cemetery tour as part of its “Remember Me” project and has spent the last year researching the town’s 46 historic cemeteries and sharing their fascinating histories and the stories of the people buried in them with the public; people like Pirate Dick Grinnell who was haunted by the clattering hooves of an Arabian Horse on his deathbed and Elizabeth Sisson who lived an unconventional life as a 18th-century single mother of three girls. Many of the burying grounds feature the gravestone carving of the John Stevens family.
Five of the cemeteries on the tour are not normally open to the public including the Captain Edward Richmond Burying Ground; the Stoddard, Gifford, and Tompkins Burying Grounds; and the misplaced gravestones of Adamsville’s Samuel Church. Seven other cemeteries on the tour typically require an appointment before visiting but will be easy to explore this Saturday. Each cemetery will have a knowledgeable guide ready to share the history of the cemetery and answer visitor questions.
The tour is scheduled from 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, September 22. Ticket holders will receive a bracelet providing access to all 30 cemeteries and a map to help guide them on their tour. Visitors may choose which cemeteries to visit and may visit them in any order using their own car or bicycle. Parking is available in each location. In case of rain, the tour will take place on Sunday, September 23. If the tour is switched to the rain date an announcement will be posted on littlecompton.org.
Tickets for the tour are $10 for members of the Little Compton Historical Society and $15 for non-members. Children 12 and under are free and must be accompanied by an adult. Participants may purchase tickets in advance at the Wilbor House Museum (548 West Main Road) or on-line at littlecompton.org.
Tickets will also be available on the day of the tour at four locations including the Wilbor House Museum, the Little Compton Community Center, the Adamsville Cemetery at the corner of John Dyer Road and Colebrook Road, and the Friends Meeting House at 234 West Main Road. The Wilbor House Museum can accept credit cards. The four locations will also offer restrooms, and the opportunity to purchase cold drinks and the “Remember Me” cemetery guidebook which provides in-depth information for each cemetery on the tour. Anyone interested in purchasing the guidebook in advance may do so at the Little Compton Historical Society, Wilbur’s General Store, Earl’s Gas Station, Gray’s Daily Grind, and Partner’s Village Store.
Visitors to the Wilbor House Museum will be able to tour the old Wilbor Cemetery as well at the “Remember Me” special exhibition featuring information on each of the town’s historic cemeteries, the history of local gravestones and burial practices and a display of mourning attire from the 19th century. Visitors to the Friends Burying Ground will also be able to tour the Friends Meeting House which is not often open to the public. At the Old Burying Ground on the Commons, volunteers will share stories of Little Compton’s earliest English settlers including Colonel Benjamin Church and Betty Alden Pabodie, believed to be the first white girl born in New England, as well as the dozens of enslaved and free people of color buried with and without gravestones in the town’s Negro Burying Ground. Gravestone conservators Betty and Carlo Mencucci will also be repairing gravestones in the Old Burying Ground on the Commons throughout the tour.
The “Remember Me” project has been generously sponsored by the Rhode Island Foundation, The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, Ocean State Charities Trust and numerous community members. One of the project goals is to recruit 100 volunteers to clean 1000 gravestones. The Historical Society reports that 95 volunteers have cleaned approximately 750 gravestones to date.